6) Switch It Up
Remember what we told you. It is important to shock the body in order to maximize exercise stress and adaptation. This can be easily implemented by switching the order in which you do exercises and by alternating exercises from week to week. For example, one week use dumbbells and the alternate week use barbells. Be creative!
7) Keep Your Reps Low
It is well documented that the greatest strength gains are made using heavy weights and low reps (4–6). This is built into the end of a linear periodization program, and research has proved this to be an effective strength-building stimulus.
8) Back To Basics
In most gyms, you will notice that there are a lot of people doing exercises that seem complicated to execute and downright dangerous if done using heavy weights. These include standing on a balance platform while performing arm curls or lying across a ball while performing a bench press. Although these exercises may hold merit somewhere in the fitness world, they are not for bodybuilders. Watch a powerlifter work out and you will quickly see that to build strength you need to incorporate specific power movements into your program. Tweak your program to include bench presses, deadlifts, and squats. These exercises are known to result in significant muscle damage, increased anabolic hormone release, and augmented strength gains.
9) Strength Supplements
Here are the fundamental supplements to proved to support strength from one workout to the next.
Caffeine Anhydrous: With the popularity of energy drinks, there has been a surge of research on the ergogenic potential of caffeine. The current data show that caffeine decreases perceived exertion and increases strength and intensity during your workouts. For a boost, take 200-400mg of caffeine anhydrous 30 minutes before working out. However, in an effort to promote good resting habits and deep sleep, avoid caffeine after 6 p.m.
Beta-Alanine: This stuff increases muscle carnosine, which serves to buffer metabolites during muscle contraction. It can also decrease muscle acidity, act as an antioxidant, and prolong neuromuscular excitation-contraction coupling. All told, beta-alanine supports longer and more intense workouts. Of added benefit, research has shown that beta-alanine taken with creatine synergistically boosts muscle growth. For best results take 3–5g of beta-alanine with your pre- and post-workout protein shakes.
So there you have it, a back-to-basics approach to mass and strength gain. You’ll notice that there is no magic formula, just an organized plan that incorporates good diet and good old-fashioned work. If you follow the guidelines set out in this article, we guarantee you will bust through plateaus and see positive changes in your physical appearance and strength.